Way back in 1999, President Bill Clinton nominated a brilliant lawyer for a seat on the federal appeals court based in the District of Columbia.
Alas, that lawyer never got to the D.C. bench. Indeed, the brilliant nominee never even got to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
You see, the lawyer suffered from a fatal flaw — she’d been named by a Democratic President, and her appointment would shift the balance of a very important court. So Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blocked her nomination, refusing to schedule a hearing.
Disappointed but undaunted, the brilliant lawyer pursued other legal opportunities over the years and achieved great success.
More than a decade after this ill-fated nomination, the federal bench beckoned once again. But this time it was a nomination to the highest court of the land.
Getting a hearing wasn’t a problem this time. A hearing where Senator Hatch and his fellow Republicans would look askance at the brilliant lawyer, complaining she lacked the very judicial experience they had denied her.
Who was that brilliant lawyer? Elena Kagan.
And now you know… the rest of the story.